Fuyuko Matsui creates modern, feminist interpretations of the tradition of Japanese painting and horror aesthetics. She breathes new life into haunting images that are at the same time sensitive and ethereal, grotesque and violent. In her hypnotic video work Regeneration of a Breached Thought (2012), Matsui films a close-up shot of her head, as strands of her black hair blow across her eyes and lips. In one scene, the ink-black iris of a single eyeball bubbles up. In another, a blind, white borzoi, an aristocratic breed of hunting dog with an unusually long feathered tail, runs in a circle before it collapses. There is no narrative, thoughts dissolving into action are linked, the film flows, as if drawing out, eliciting the meanings submerged in the unconscious realm of dreams.
The canine’s tail coils across the screen while Matsui’s hair takes on a life of its own, surrounding the artist. The borzoi is a motif often used by Matsui and monstrous hair a common subject in Japanese art and films as a symbol of sexuality and possession by dark spirits. Hair is meant to be very orderly; long hair is traditionally associated with untethered and dangerous urges and there used to be many regulations of female hair in Japanese society. Also, according to Matsui, the sadness you feel, stays in your hair.
Wild, unshackled, tangled female hair brings us to Matsui’s feminism. Matsui once said that she will only paint women, as she herself as a woman can only understand women’s feelings. She has also talked about small pains of being a woman in contemporary Japan where despite the equality, gender roles can still be strong and restrictive.
A blind borzoi dreams that it is lithely running around. Matsui keeps her eyes shut, even as she senses something unpleasant. Matsui’s eyeball, as if leaking blood, is like an image drawn from Tanizaki Jun’ichirô‘s tale about a blind koto teacher, Shunkinshô or from the famous surrealist black and white film Un Chien Andalou by Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dali. Whose dreams are we watching and whose thoughts are we regenerating? Revelations orchestrated by Matsui roam between the personal and collective, physical and spiritual.
Regeneration of a Breached Thought is commissioned and supported by Rolex (Japan) Ldt. This exhibition is supported by the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture.
Fuyuko Matsui (松井冬子, b. 1974) is Japanese visual artist trained both in western style painting and traditional Japanese style Nihonga. Matsui’s works are often based on her psychoanalysis results and feelings. They also reveal her interest in the themes of loss, power, repression, and trauma.